Coral Bleaching

Volume 205 of the series Ecological Studies pp 21-39

Coral Bleaching in Space and Time

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Large-scale coral bleaching was recorded as early as 1931, but severe bleaching on a regional or global scale was not documented until 1983. We use records from a global database of bleaching records to show that severe bleaching events occurred at a global level on four recent occasions and demonstrate that these events occurred in close temporal proximity to a strong negative deviation in the Southern Oscillation Index. While there was no clear increase in the frequency or intensity of major global bleaching events, the number of bleaching records clearly increased during the past three decades. However, increased vigilance and reporting of mild bleaching by an ever-increasing number of researchers and conservation-minded divers has confounded efforts to definitively separate changes in bleaching frequency from changes in reporting.